Honours recipients

Published

1. Main facts and figures

  • in the 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, 85.6% of honours recipients were White (out of those whose ethnicity was known)
  • 8.0% of honours recipients were Asian, 4.8% were Black, 1.0% had Mixed ethnicity, and 0.6% were from the Other ethnic group
  • White people received 95.5% of higher honours (including damehoods and knighthoods)
  • out of all types of honour, MBEs had the greatest percentage of recipients from ethnic minorities (not including White minorities), at 19.8%
  • between June 2014 and October 2020, the percentage of honours recipients from ethnic minorities (not including White minorities) went up from 6.5% to 14.4%

2. Things you need to know

What the data measures

The data measures the ethnicity of people who receive one of the following honours in the Queen's Birthday and New Year's Honours lists:

  • Higher Honours (including damehoods and knighthoods)
  • CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire)
  • OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire)
  • MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire)
  • BEM (British Empire Medal)

The Queen’s Birthday Honours List is usually published in June each year, but it was published in October 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. There were more recipients than usual, and 414 of the 1,495 recipients were honoured for their work relating to COVID-19.

You can read more about the honours system.

Percentages are rounded to 1 decimal point, but all differences have been worked out using unrounded data.

Not included in the data

The data does not include:

  • people who did not accept their honour
  • people whose ethnicity was not known

The ethnic groups used in the data

Honours recipients reported their own ethnicity using the 2011 Census categories.

Data is shown for the following 5 aggregated ethnic groups:

  • Asian
  • Black
  • Mixed
  • White
  • Other

This is because the number of honours recipients is small (around 1,200 people per honours list).

For the data shown over time, results are shown for 2 aggregated ethnic groups:

  • White – White ethnic groups (including White British and White ethnic minorities)
  • Other than White – all other ethnic minorities

The ethnicity was not known for 10.2% of honours recipients in October 2020.

Methodology

The number of honours recipients is small and varies from year to year. Find out how group size affects the reliability of data.

In the data file

See Download the data for the number of recipients whose ethnicity was not known between 2014 and 2020.

3. By ethnicity and type of honour

Percentage and number of honours recipients, by ethnicity and type of honour
All Higher CBE OBE MBE BEM
Ethnicity All % All Number Higher % Higher Number CBE % CBE Number OBE % OBE Number MBE % MBE Number BEM % BEM Number
All 100.0 1,343 100.0 22 100.0 94 100.0 241 100.0 479 100.0 507
Asian 8.0 107 0.0 0 6.4 6 8.3 20 10.6 51 5.9 30
Black 4.8 64 4.5 1 6.4 6 3.3 8 7.1 34 3.0 15
Mixed 1.0 14 0.0 0 2.1 2 1.2 3 1.3 6 0.6 3
White 85.6 1,150 95.5 21 84.0 79 86.7 209 80.2 384 90.1 457
Other 0.6 8 0.0 0 1.1 1 0.4 1 0.8 4 0.4 2

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and type of honour’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and type of honour’ (CSV)

Summary of Honours recipients By ethnicity and type of honour Summary

In these percentages, recipients from ethnic minorities do not include people from White ethnic minority groups (such as White Irish). Percentages are based on honours recipients whose ethnicity was known (about 90% of recipients in October 2020).

The data shows that, in the 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honours List:

  • 85.6% of honours recipients were White
  • 8.0% of honours recipients were Asian, 4.8% were Black, 1.0% were from Mixed ethnic backgrounds, and 0.6% were from the Other ethnic group
  • among people who received a higher honour (like a knighthood or damehood), 95.5% were White and 4.5% were Black – there were no higher honour recipients from Asian, Mixed or Other ethnic backgrounds
  • out of all types of honour, MBEs had the highest percentage of recipients from ethnic minorities (19.8%)

4. By ethnicity and type of honour over time

Percentage of honours recipients, by ethnicity (White and Other than White) and type of honour over time
White Other than White
Time period White Higher White CBE White OBE White MBE White BEM Other than White Higher Other than White CBE Other than White OBE Other than White MBE Other than White BEM
Jun-14 94.9 94.4 91.1 92.9 95.9 5.1 5.6 8.9 7.1 4.1
Dec-14 92.9 96.3 94.4 91.1 97.2 7.1 3.7 5.6 8.9 2.8
Jun-15 84.6 94.4 94.7 91.3 95.1 15.4 5.6 5.3 8.7 4.9
Dec-15 94.7 96.2 95.2 91.6 96.5 5.3 3.8 4.8 8.4 3.5
Jun-16 94.4 93.3 92.4 87.9 96.6 5.6 6.7 7.6 12.1 3.4
Dec-16 91.9 93.8 91.2 88.9 91.8 8.1 6.3 8.8 11.1 8.2
Jun-17 94.6 94.9 88.1 86.8 94.9 5.4 5.1 11.9 13.2 5.1
Dec-17 91.8 92.6 89.6 88.2 94.8 8.2 7.4 10.4 11.8 5.2
Jun-18 94.3 90.0 85.2 87.1 94.7 5.7 10.0 14.8 12.9 5.3
Dec-18 100.0 96.3 87.1 82.3 92.7 0.0 3.7 12.9 17.7 7.3
Jun-19 96.8 92.6 84.3 87.3 93.7 3.2 7.4 15.7 12.7 6.3
Dec-19 85.3 87.2 88.5 84.7 90.8 14.7 12.8 11.5 15.3 9.2
Oct-20 95.5 84.0 86.7 80.2 90.1 4.5 16.0 13.3 19.8 9.9

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and type of honour over time’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and type of honour over time’ (CSV)

Summary of Honours recipients By ethnicity and type of honour over time Summary

In these percentages, recipients from ethnic minorities do not include people from White ethnic minority groups (such as White Irish). Percentages are based on honours recipients whose ethnicity was known.

The data shows that, between June 2014 and October 2020:

  • the percentage of honours recipients from ethnic minorities went up from 6.5% to 14.4%
  • the percentage of recipients from ethnic minorities receiving a CBE, OBE, MBE and BEM went up between June 2014 and October 2020
  • for higher honours like knighthoods and damehoods, the percentage of recipients from ethnic minorities is often based on a very small number (between 20 and 50 per honours list) – this makes it difficult to make reliable generalisations about changes over time

5. Data sources

Source

Type of data

Administrative data

Type of statistic

Official statistics

Publisher

Cabinet Office

Publication frequency

Twice a year

Purpose of data source

The collection of this data is for statistical purposes and aids the Honours and Appointments Secretariat in ensuring equality of representation in the honours system.

6. Download the data

Honours recipients by ethnicity - Spreadsheet (csv) 55 KB

This file contains the following: type of honour, ethnicity, year, number and percentage values